In today's fast paced world, it can be hard, if not down right stressful, to wedding plan. A traditional wedding, with all of its pomp and circumstance, can take up to a year of planning, and let's not even mention the cost.
Whether you're looking for something more alternative (a courthouse wedding with an intimate after party) or you and your partner just crave something more personal, more intimate (and without the big budget), an elopement wedding may be just what you're looking for.
Don't let the word "elopement" scare you though. It doesn't mean you have to fly to Vegas or say your I do's in Barbados. It doesn't even mean you have to secretly say your vows at city hall, sans wedding cake and festive decor.
In fact, an elopement wedding can be just as exciting as a traditional wedding, and can include all the wedding things you love. The plus side is that it probably won't cost as much and won't take up as much of your precious time to plan.
Here are the details on planning an elopement wedding and inspiration to get you started.
Different Kinds of Elopements
There are all kinds of ways to elope. Here are some of the most popular.
City Hall/Courthouse Elopement: Whether it's just the two of you or a handful of close friends and family, a courthouse wedding is one of the most popular ways to elope. Getting wed at the courthouse means you'll say your vows in front of a judge and exchange rings. You can do all the other wedding stuff as well - carry a bouquet, wear a formal dress, get photos taken, etc. It's totally up to you and your sweetie how you want your courthouse wedding to look and feel.
Special Place Elopement: Want to elope on a mountain? Or keep it local in your backyard? It can be done! If you're digging a super intimate elopement (just you and your partner), all you need is a place and an officiant. Some wedding venues offer elopement packages, so check into it if you have a dream venue in mind.
Almost Elopement: This is a gray area kind of wedding because it's kind of traditional in that you pick a date and invite a few family and friends (plus an officiant) to attend, but also kind of an elopement because it's typically low-key and takes place somewhere non-traditional (a field, private beach, forest, mom's backyard, etc.).
Elopement Wedding Planning
You may not have to spend months thinking about and planning an elopement wedding (that's the beauty of it), but you still need to keep some things in mind, like what your chosen location's marriage license laws are, what the wait times are for receiving the license, if you need an appointment at city hall, and whether or not you need a witness at the ceremony. Some other things:
- How far in advance should you apply (typically 3 weeks)?
- How much does it cost?
- What paperwork/documents do you need?
Just like a traditional wedding, an elopement wedding needs a budget. Decide on how much you want to spend the day of and on post-celebration activities, if you're having them. You'll also want to consider vendor costs, photographer fees, rings, attire, flowers, travel costs, and whatever else you plan on spending money on.
Elopement Wedding Checklist
Order your rings: Make sure to order them in plenty of time! The ring exchange is one of the most symbolic moments of the ceremony, so don't forget them or leave the purchase until the last minute.
Write your vows: If you want personal vows, you can write them yourself and bring them to the ceremony. If not, you can follow the judge's/officiant's lead.
Purchase your attire: Whether it's a casual tea-length dress or a sweep-the-floor ball gown, you'll want to look and feel your best at your elopement. Go all out bridal or keep it low-key with your favorite pair of jeans and a blouse. It's up to you! If you're looking for beautiful wedding dresses for a courthouse elopement, hop on over to our blog post on the perfect wedding dresses for city hall.
Make travel plans: If you're headed out of state or overseas, make sure you have your travel plans arranged and confirmed.
Celebrate: Have a post-ceremony celebration with friends, go on a honeymoon, or just stay home and have cake and champagne.
Announcements: Send out sneak peek pictures of your elopement, a "We got married!" card, or nothing at all. It's up to you!